GlobeIn Benefit Basket Subscription Unboxing and Review-August 2015

GlobeIn Benefit Basket August 2015

GlobeIn is a subscription service bringing fairly traded artisan items from around the world. Their Artisan Box subscription packs 4-6 items from a selected theme into one of their signature, handwoven, Mexican baskets for $35.00/month. Their newly introduced Benefit Basket subscription takes one of the items from the monthly Artisan Box and sends it to subscribers in a Mexican basket for $19.99/month (shipping free, and less with multi-month subscriptions). GlobeIn recently ran a promotion offering one month free with a three month Benefit Basket subscription, bringing the cost down to $12.65/basket. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out this new service.

I purchased this box and all opinions are my own.

Globein Benefit Basket subscription August 2015

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing please enjoy the video unboxing below. I’m still trying to find the right setting in the new house for unboxing so please bear with the boring backgrounds and poor lighting while I try to figure it all out. If you watch the video you might get to see me juggle (or perhaps not). If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

I really liked the Globe In box. It has great artwork and I really liked the graphic “clue” about this month’s theme and what was inside. It definitely had a unique personality.

GlobeIn benefit basket review August 2015

One of the reasons that I felt confident giving this subscription a try was because I knew that each month’s box would include one of GlobeIn’s beautiful palm leaf baskets (value $12.00). I really appreciate the reusable packaging and the covered basket is such a versatile size. I can seeing us using it in the kids’ bedrooms or playrooms to hold anything from craft supplies, crayons, toys, shells, rocks, and more. I can also see using these as reusable gift wrap. They would add so much to the presentation of a gift. I thought that the vibrant fuschia basket that I received this month was really beautiful. I also thought that the added touch of the beautiful photograph, name, and brief story about the artisan and group who crafted the basket was very nice; it gave a sense of humanity and individuality to the item rather than being just another mass-produced thing.

GlobeIn benefit basket laundry theme-wool dryer balls

I opened the basket to find a tan, organic cotton interlock, drawstring bag. Inside the bag were three natural wool dryer balls (value $17.50). For those who are not familiar with wool dryer balls, they are designed to replace fabric softener sheets. They offer a natural way to soften and scent clothes in the dryer (just add a few drops of essential oil to the dryer balls). They even cut down on drying time, saving electricity. I have been using dryer balls for a long time, and some of you may have even watched my wool ball tutorial on YouTube (to make decorated balls for child or pet play, or plain balls for the dryer). GlobeIn also included beautiful photographs of the dryer balls as well as the artisan who made them. They also featured a story about the cooperative who makes the dryer balls and a map of where they are located.

GlobeIn Benefit Basket Laundry theme August 2015

In total this month’s GlobeIn basket had a retail value of $29.50, which includes the GlobeIn basket. I think this is a very good value for the price that I paid. I really like what a “feel good” box this is. GlobeIn takes such care to connect its customers to the artisans who product the items for the basket. That intention is really shown through the beautiful inserts, text, and photographs. I also plan to sit down with my children and show them the baskets and the products, and teach them about who made the items. I think that it will go a long way towards making somewhat abstract concepts like world populations, economy, geography, and differences more concrete through actual examples. I am looking forward to receiving my next GlobeIn basket, which is going to feature a Wellness theme.

What do you think of GlobeIn’s new Benefit Basket option?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find that here. It has been newly updated and expanded. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or unboxings, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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A Night for Green Beauty: Recap and Review (Part 2)

A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Oh my goodness, I cannot believe how overwhelming it has been to try to unpack and settle in after our move. It boggles my mind how the time has flown since I posted Part One of my A Night for Green Beauty Recap and Review. I wanted to wait until I was a bit more settled and could give the second part of the recap the attention that it deserved. If you missed out, A Night for Green Beauty is an exceptional event that brings together top green beauty brands and fans from around the globe, as well as new up-and-coming brands.

A Night for Green Beauty

As mentioned in Part One, this year’s event featured thirty-four amazing brands striving to raise the bar on glamour, quality, and luxury within the green beauty industry. I was thoroughly impressed by the brands represented and the products on display at the show. It was exciting to see new products being unveiled at the show, and a true delight to speak directly with the product creators. It was inspiring to see the drive and passion of the innovators in green beauty. Please see Part One for more complete details of the event and a review of several ANFGB brands.

I wanted to talk about another handful of the outstanding companies at the event. As mentioned earlier, I did my best to spend time at every table and attempt to engage the brand creators or representatives in conversation about their products, but was not able to chat with each and every one. Likewise, although I tried to take as many photos as possible, I wasn’t able to represent all of the green beauty brands at the show. Please consider the following pictures and description to be a window into the event, but not a complete illustration of the utter fabulousness.

There were many draws for me with respect to ANFGB and a strong one was the ability to see and feel products that are not readily available to me at brick-and-mortar retailers. One product that I was especially interested to try in person was the coconut oil from Cocovit. As I have mentioned before, there was a time when the green beauty market was underdeveloped or unknown to me, yet I was so against putting potential toxins onto my skin in the name of beauty that I had distilled my beauty routine down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil. It did not work well for me, so I was very intrigued by Cocovit’s coconut oil which claimed to be a unlike the coconut oil that I knew. I was dubious about the idea that coconut oil in a pretty jar could really be significantly different than what I used in my smoothies or for skincare in the past. I had read Sarita Coren’s post singing the praises of Cocovit’s coconut oil, but I wanted to see it for myself.

Cocovit at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

I made sure to stop by the Cocovit table and was pleased to learn that the growing company is local to Chicago (and therefore local to me). In addition to their foundational product, coconut oil, Cocovit had also introduced two new products just prior to, and at the show. On display was their new Coconut Charcoal face mask made from a blend of coconut charcoal, bentonite clay, and herbs to detoxify the skin. They also were showing their new Orange and Basil Lip Balm which smelled divine. I however made a beeline directly for the coconut oil itself, and I must say that it was completely different from any coconut oil that I have experienced before. It had a luxurious, velvety texture and was far less greasy than traditional “market” coconut oil. I could very much see it working well in beauty and skincare applications. I was both surprised and impressed by the quality of the product, which I had assumed would not be as distinct from my familiar and disappointing coconut oil of the past. Although I did not come home from the show with any of Cocovit’s product, I look forward to having an chance to try their line in the future.

Josh Rosebrook at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

One line that I had an opportunity to try prior to the show was Josh Rosebrook. I had received his Cacao Antioxidant Mask as part of a limited edition Goodebox to benefit the breast cancer fund (now sold out). I loved the powerful herbal and other plant ingredients in the mask. Whenever I used it, not only did I feel like I was covering my face in a rich chocolate sauce (nothing bad about that), but it left my skin feeling baby-soft and looking refreshed. I was fortunate to be able to speak with Josh at length. He was delightfully warm and kind, and so clearly fascinated by the power of plants and their ability to enhance healing. I was struck by the use of herbs that I haven’t often seen in skincare such as the chickweed and skullcap in his delicious-smelling Deep Hydrating Serum, a scent owed in no small part to the marshmallow root and organic vanilla also listed among its ingredients. Josh also spoke about recent experiences using neem to support healing and his desire to incorporate it even more in future products. I would have enjoyed staying around to talk with Josh longer, but he had other people to chat with and I had other green beauty brands to explore.

R.L. Linden at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Not surprisingly, I continued to find myself drawn to brands that were grounded in herbalism. I quickly noticed chickweed among the many beautiful ingredients in products at Laurel Whole Plant Organics (as I had now developed a chickweed fascination). Laurel Whole Plant Organic’s extensive flower and herb-based line boasts biodynamic, organic, and raw ingredients. Laurel has clearly put tremendous knowledge, thought, and integrity to work in creating her namesake line and products, and it was a pleasure to meet her and hear her talk about her creations. I also adored talking to herbalist Lynn Till, who along with friend and certified Master Nutrition Therapist, Robin King created the company R.L. Linden. R.L. Linden has an array of products in their line ranging from teas and perfumes, to skincare and body care items. In full disclosure I got so completely caught up in my fantastic conversation with Lynn that I neglected to explore the products in person at the show. At the end of the night I was absolutely kicking myself as a result. In the process of researching all of the companies prior to ANFGB there were some products that I had starred and highlighted as must-sees. Several of the R. L. Linden Denver-Inspired Perfume Oils were front and center on that list. Fortunately for me, R. L. Linden sells sample packs of many of their products through their website as well as perfume samples, so trying out a host of their products can be done with ease by those who could not attend the show or those, who like me, found themselves so sept away by the event at times that we forgot our full agendas.

R. L. Linden at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Despite my affinity for those with herbalism leanings, there were a host of brands whose roots came through other experiences and areas of expertise. I had an opportunity to speak with Heidi Miller from May Lindstrom’s team who told me about May’s upbringing on a farm in rural Minnesota and her explorations into the plants and earth all around her throughout her childhood. Heidi indicated that May seems to have developed a sense of how plants and ingredients will work together; creating the jasmine garden botanical mist in a short burst of reflection and tinkering after a customer requested a jasmine-scented product. The resulting creation was so well-received that it was made a permanent fixture in the line, which also contains products designed to cleanse, detoxify, and hydrate face, body, and hair using a combination of organic, raw, and wildcrafted ingredients.

Bottega Organica A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Bottega Organica came to skincare through a rather circuitous route. One of their founders is molecular geneticist Andrea Alimonti, whose research into cancer cures led him to an appreciation for the impact of specific plant extracts on cellular health. This marriage of health science and botany led to the development of a line focused on anti-aging products aimed at preserving and rejuvenating cellular health using 100% natural ingredients. The researcher and the cancer survivor in me appreciated the brand’s focus on the scientific basis of their key ingredients and the clinical testing used to evaluate product efficacy; as well as their commitment to using ingredients that support health, avoidance of harmful ingredients, and donation of a minimum of 10% of all profits to organizations involved in cancer cure and prevention. Bottega Organica graciously provided me with samples of a couple of their products (reviews to follow), and I cannot say enough positive things about the stunning list of plant-based ingredients or the intoxicating scent derived from pawn sage, one of their signature ingredients.

La Bella Figura at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

I simply could not end A Night for Green Beauty without visiting the La Bella Figura table as they are the amazing brand that created and founded the entire ANFGB event. Another Chicago-based company, La Bella Figura showcases skincare, perfumes, and cosmetics that embody luxury and beauty. I have made no secret about my passion for prickly pear, and La Bella Figura bases many of the products in their line off of barbary fig (prickly pear) seed oil. In fact, one of the special features of ANFGB was the offering of some products that would be completely exclusive to the show. Among these was a limited run of La Bella Figura’s Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil enhanced with prickly pear flower essential oil. I had to stop and catch my breath after hearing about the the serendipitous discovery of an apothecary in Italy which had a few precious bottles of prickly pear flower essential oil that was made there only once each year. These bottles were brought back to Chicago and used to create La Bella Figura’s ANFGB exclusives. I had to purchase a bottle of this treasure for myself out of respect for the care and craft of every person along the way who contributed to its creation. I have been using it with love and gratitude since the show and will review it, and some of La Bella Figura’s other beautiful products, in a separate post.

I ended the evening with a smile on my face and a bag filled with purchases, samples, and business cards that I have will look forward to reviewing and sharing. I cannot overstate how extremely pleased I was with the whole event and the opportunity to connect with, and learn more about, these exceptional green beauty brands. I am a bit anxious to hear about the future plans as the green beauty market evolves and explores different platforms for interacting with the community. This was the final year for the A Night for Green Beauty Event, but my fingers are crossed that we have not seen the last of magical green beauty events to remember.

Have you recently discovered any favorite new products from this year’s ANFGB brands? I would love to hear your product thoughts and recommendations.

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Barganic Alerts: Yoga, green beauty, and organic baby items

I usually like to post my Barganic Alerts individually to highlight each and every one, but the green, crunchy bargains are piling up. I’m going to post a few all at once so be sure to give ‘em a good look. I think there’s something for just about everyone in this mix. I am not affiliated with, or responsible for these companies; just looking to pass along bargains.

Vegan Cuts is one of the many crunchy-friendly subscription box services featured in the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. They source and send quality, 100% cruelty-free cosmetic, skin care, and beauty products to their monthly subscribers. On occasion, Vegan Cuts curates limited edition themed boxes available for purchase individually.

Vegan Cuts Ltd. Edition Yoga Box

Due to the popularity of their recent yoga-themed box, Vegan Cuts has decided to offer a second limited edition box for yogis everywhere. The Yoga Box (pictured above) includes sixteen items for yoga enthusiasts to eat, wear, use, and enjoy. The box costs $39.00 (shipping is free) and features $139.00 worth of jewelry and accessories, yoga props, healthy snacks and tea, and aromatherapy products. See the link for the complete item listing and to order (yoga mat not included).

As an added bonus, Vegan Cuts is running promotion code OHSOPRETTY for $10 off orders of $50+ (through 8/28). I am not 100% sure if the code will stack with this deal, but it can’t hurt to try. Please let me know if you try the code and succeed.

Petit Vour Leaping Bunny Box

The next offer comes from another company featured on the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Petit Vour focuses on cruelty-free products, but tends to feature product lines that are also natural and organic. They too are offering a limited edition, single-purchase box at the moment.

The Petit Vour Leaping Bunny Limited Edition Box is filled with a luxurious collection of five Leaping Bunny-certified, non-toxic, vegan cosmetic and skincare items. In addition, 10% of sales will be donated directly to Leaping Bunny.

The Petit Vour Leaping Bunny box costs $50.00 and includes shipping. The retail value of the items included is $142.00. Please see the link for item specifics and to order yours.

Bambino Land sale 50%  off with Blissmo code

Last in the group is another subscription box service featured in the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Blissmo offers a monthly box of premium organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly personal care and food products.

For this Barganic Alert, Blissmo is partnering with Bambino Land for a limited time promotion. Bambino Land is a mom-owned product line of 100% certified organic baby clothes, swaddling blankets, crib sheets, gifts, and accessories. Through Friday, August 28th 10 pm PST, shoppers can use code BLISSMO for 50% off their entire Bambino Land purchase. Many items on the site are already marked down. When I added both sale and full-price items to my cart, the code deducted 50% from all items. This deal looks like a great opportunity to stock up on cute and cozy clothes, blankets, baby leggings and more made with organic materials.

Did you find something in the Barganic Alerts list that you can’t pass up?

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com, or follow Crunchy Parent on Twitter or Pinterest to get these alerts delivered straight to you via your favorite social media outlet.

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Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe: Great Gluten Free Alternative

gluten free quinoa tabbouleh

Wow, this move has really been quite a process. I feel like the sea of boxes is never-ending. That said, I am incredibly grateful that we found our way to a new house. I love it and look forward to settling in over time.

Despite the move and the chaos and the upheaval, we’ve still got to eat (although full disclosure, I took these pictures while still in my parent’s house. I’m lucky if I can find a mixing bowl here at this point). This tabbouleh salad is a summer favorite of mine. It is not complicated to make; mostly chop and mix. It has great fresh summer flavors, highlighted by the lemon, parsley, and mint. I often bring it along to summer parties and pot lucks. Using quinoa in place of the traditional bulgur wheat makes this tabbouleh gluten free.

Many quinoa recipes use a higher water-to-quinoa ratio than this one, which I find results in a mushy quinoa. This ratio will yield fluffier grain (well, technically a seed). While we’re on the subject, if you are not familiar with cooking quinoa it is a little different than most other seeds and grains. Quinoa is naturally coated with saponins, which if left on can give cooked quinoa a bitter or otherwise unpleasant taste. The simple solution is to rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the water-soluble saponins. I place my quinoa in a large glass measuring cup, cover with water, and stir around to rinse. I then strain using a fine strainer, and repeat the process until the soaking water is clear, not cloudy. If you can find a large strainer with a fine enough mesh, you can rinse directly in the strainer until the water runs clear and is not foamy at all. My larger strainers have larger mesh and the quinoa tends to escape. Do what works for you. Also, quinoa is a bit magical. After cooking, the little seed looks as though it has sprouted a tail. This is normal and should not be cause for alarm.

I like to minimize the juiciness of my ingredients in the recipe to avoid a mushy, watered down salad. I recommend using plum tomatoes and English (hothouse) cucumbers because they are less watery than traditional tomatoes and cucumbers. If you only have traditional versions on hand, remove the seeds before using and this will help to reduce liquid. Okay, on to the recipe.

My plum tomatoes were tiny so I snuck in an extra. Not pictured: water.

My plum tomatoes were tiny so I snuck in an extra. Not pictured: water.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. water
1 c. quinoa
pinch salt
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
4 plum tomatoes, diced
1 medium English cucumber, diced (or 1/2 of a large English cucumber as I have shown)
1 bunch green onions, diced
1 bunch fresh parsley (approximately 1 cup), chopped
1 small bunch fresh mint (approximately 1/3 cup), chopped

1. Rinse quinoa as directed above. Drain.
2. In a saucepan, bring the water and pinch of salt to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa and reduce flame to low to simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool, covered. Once cooled to room temperature, remove cover and fluff with fork.
3. While quinoa cooks and cools, dice the tomatoes, cucumber and green onions; chop the parsley and mint. Add them all to a large bowl.

Veggies and herbs in the bowl. Tomatoes are trying to hide, can you see them?

Veggies and herbs in the bowl. Tomatoes are trying to hide, can you see them?

4. Top veggies and herbs with olive oil, and salt. Mix to coat.

Seasoning the quinoa tabbouleh

5. Wash and dry lemon. Since you’re eating the peel, it’s really ideal to use an organic lemon, if possible. Zest with microplane grater, removing just the outer yellow part, not the bitter white pith, to yield 1 t. zest. Add to bowl. Cut lemon in half and juice to yield 1/4 c. lemon juice. Add to bowl as well.

zested lemon

zested lemon

juiced lemon

juiced lemon

6. Add cooled quinoa to bowl. Realize that you’re going to need bigger bowl to mix it all without making a mess (this may only happen to me). Mix until thoroughly combined.

Gluten free quinoa tabbouleh recipe

7. Adjust seasoning as desired. Transfer back into pretty bowl, and enjoy!

gluten free quinoa tabbouleh

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TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 3


Counse / Foter / CC BY

I sometimes wonder if I am being self-indulgent or living in the past when I post these excerpts from my personal cancer blog from early 2011. I may be, but I also think that although these experiences and feelings are in my past, they are very much present for others who might relate to my words. A longtime friend-through-a-friend whom I have known since college will be having surgery to remove cancer from her body tomorrow while her children wait at home wondering why mommies and daddies get cancer. I saw her recently and it was clear that so much of what I struggled with is washing over her. I hope that for her, and for anyone else who might be fighting against cancer right now, these words serve as some form of empathy and validation. Just keep moving through it. If you want to read parts one or two of the cancer series, please do. This will be here when you get back.

This entry was originally published on January 28, 2011; six weeks after receiving my diagnosis and about two weeks into my radiation treatments. It reflects in part on my gratitude for looking well despite being sick; this allowed me to protect the kids from some degree of my vulnerability. However, the mismatch between my outward appearance and my internal state also reminded me a bit of being in one’s first trimester of pregnancy; so much is going on, you may feel exhausted, sick, concerned and yet to the average passerby there is no hint of a deviation from normal, unless you tell…

Several people have commented lately that I’m looking great (thanks!) It makes me think of a t-shirt that I saw when looking for cancer advocacy clothes (I’ll show you the t-shirt that I settled on once I get a picture of me in it).

My mirror selfie in the women's changing room at the cancer center. It was Feb. 4, 2011; World Cancer Day. I wore my t-shirt as my battle armor before changing into my hospital gown for radiation.

My mirror selfie in the women’s changing room at the cancer center. It was Feb. 4, 2011; World Cancer Day. I wore my t-shirt as my battle armor before changing into my hospital gown for radiation.

Anyway, the shirt that I saw said something like, “Nobody told me I looked this good before I had cancer.” It took me a second to get the joke, but once I did I found it quite funny, and it’s true. I am hearing with much greater frequency that I look good. No complaints, I’ll take it thank you very much. I’m not sure though if the joke is that people say that you look good because they’re trying to make you feel better, or if they don’t know what to say, or if they are in fact surprised that you don’t look more “sick” given the gravity of what’s going on with your body. In my case though, there has been one recent significant adjustment that I imagine factors in to the observed change in my appearance as well.

When Eva was born, amidst all of the drama and stress and confusion my hospital bag was brought back home even though I had not been. I was stuck in the hospital for six days with a brand new baby, limited ability to move, tubes in my hands and plastic hospital bracelets all up my arms that kept scratching her new baby skin, and no ability to pull my hair up and out of the way because my hair elastics had been brought home in the bag. I remember thinking that my hair was such an annoyance and always in the way as I struggled to figure out how to mother this new little person from the confines of a small bed in a miniscule room tethered to machines seemingly everywhere (Interesting Fact: Rich hit his head 112 times on the TV suspended from the ceiling in that room). About fourteen minutes after we got home from the hospital I assumed my “mommy hairdo” of my hair pulled back off my face in either a ponytail or makeshift bun. For eight years I’ve pulled my hair back to keep busy little fingers from tugging at it or tiny faces from wiping their noses in it as they snuggled against my shoulder. Wearing my hair down became relegated to the extremely rare adult-only outing, so much so that Alina developed a unique Pavlovian response wherein she would burst into tears any time that she saw me take my hair down even briefly for fear that I was leaving her to go off somewhere.

When I go to radiation each morning, I tend to see the same group of women moving in and out of the women’s changing room. We smile and chat briefly. There’s Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer with Metastases to the Kidney, Stage 3 Endometrial Cancer, Round 2 of Chemo, Lady with the Pretty White Wig, Lady Who Won’t Wear a White Wig Because She Always Dyed Her Hair Dark, Lady with the Grumpy Attitude, etc. I can’t help but to notice that among them I am clearly Young Lady with the Baby as they are all between the ages of my mother and my grandmother. I can’t help but notice that I’m also The One With the Hair Who Doesn’t Need Chemo, as all but one of them comes to radiation sporting a wig or a hat to protect her against this windy cold weather and this evil disease. I hear them talk about chemo and the nausea and the debilitating pain and I am acutely grateful that at least for now that component of the cancer trifecta (radiation, chemo, surgery) is not part of my future. Truth be told, there is not really an effective chemotherapy for liposarcoma, which is why it has not been recommended as a part of my treatment. Regardless of the reason, I have been spared the physical and emotional pain of losing control of one more part of my life, and I have been allowed to keep my hair and at the same time allowed to remain healthy looking regardless of my cancer status. To my children their mom looks and is healthy, and for that and many other things I am thankful. So if you’ve seen me you may have noticed that after an eight-year hiatus I am once again wearing my hair down. It’s my very small tribute to the others who have needed to sacrifice so much more than I have to this illness, and it is my personal expression of gratitude that I still have my hair to enjoy, even though Asher has been wiping his nose in it all week.

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Mindfulness Box Subscription Unboxing and Review-August 2015

Mindfulness Box is a relatively new lifestyle subscription service aimed at promoting mindfulness, inner peace, and balance by giving people the tools to live with more intention and in the present moment. This lifestyle box includes holistic and homeopathic, essential oil, and mineral based health care products, handcrafted jewelry, delicious biodynamic treats, natural minerals/crystals and more. Each box contains 4-5 items accompanied with guided dialogue to enrich the recipient’s journey to balance and inner peace. Boxes cost $29.00 per month, which includes shipping, and are less with multi-month subscriptions.

Mindfulness Box kindly sent me this box to review. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions are my own.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing which features my devoted Mindfulness Box sidekick Alina (who was apparently auditioning for a Mindfulness Box commercial at the end), take a look at the video unboxing below. Forgive that I was rushing a bit with this month’s video. As I mention in the video, the unboxing was three days before we are scheduled to move and I think I was being less present than I should have been; something that tends to happen when we are feeling overwhelmed and could probably most benefit from a moment of mindfulness. In viewing and editing the video, I wish that I had taken a few extra minutes to let Alina explore the items as we opened them, rather than rushing her along. I will take this to heart next month and follow her lead more. She so enjoys receiving this box in particular, and I am grateful to share in her excitement. However, if you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with it’s bright, smiling symbol and “Present Moment. Beautiful Moment” message to set the tone to best appreciate the contents. The outer box was marked “fragile” to protect the contents. Everything arrived to me safe and intact.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 review: lollipops and tea

Upon opening this month’s box, Alina and I were both excited to see some edible treats tucked in amongst the larger items. Alina snapped up four Yummy Earth Organic lollipops, and immediately started thinking about friends and siblings with whom she could share the goodies (value: $0.50). Each of the flavors included (strawberry, blueberry, watermelon, and cherry) are packed with a full day’s dose of vitamin C. We have been long-time Yummy Earth fans because they are organic and non-GMO as well as being free of artificial colors, flavors, and many common allergens. They are also really delicious. I zoned in on two bags of Yogi Relaxed Mind tea, which blends a host of fantastic herbs and flowers to create a delicious cup of tea. I received this tea as a bonus in a previous Mindfulness box and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to have some more. This item was not listed on the description card included in the box, so it may have been a bonus this month as well.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 Essential oil and diffuser

Among the next discoveries in the box was a .5 oz. bottle of Aura Cacia sweet orange essential oil (listed value: $5.00, although Aura Cacia lists it at $4.15 on their website). The oil came packaged in a box that gave some recipes for using the oil to make a refreshing room mist or a brightening body wash. We love essential oils around here and use them all the time. That is why almost any time I unbox an essential oil, my children will recognize it as familiar; this video being no exception. Mindfulness box paired the essential oil with a gorgeous, two-piece, soapstone essential oil diffuser that had been hand-carved in India (value: $15.00). According to Mindfulness Box, soapstone provides for both movement and widening of one’s horizon and assisting one in “changing with the tides.” They go on to add that soapstone emits a calming energy, stimulating one to release old routines for new loving environments. I have to say that it sounds like the absolute perfect addition as we transition to our new home later this week.

The diffuser is meant to be used with an essential oil and water in the top bowl, and a tea light placed underneath to warm and disperse the oil throughout the air, while the light shines through the carvings. Mindfulness Box expanded on this interplay of scent and light by including the instructions for a guided Jyoti (light) Meditation. I have been bringing Alina with me to my Cancer Yoga class this summer and we always end class with a guided meditation. I think that the practice has been grounding and relaxing for us both. I look forward to using the meditation as suggested with the whole family to build a practice of meditation in our new home.

Mindfulness Box August 2015 review: Salve and amethyst crystal

The last two items in our Mindfulness Box this month included a .75 oz. tin of Sage, Lavender, and Orange Enlightening balm from Medicine of the People (value: $10.00). The all-purpose balm is made by Native Americans using herbs that are hand-foraged in their native soil, which used biodynamic farming practices. I find that as I have become more proficient and confident using herbs for healing, we have been using balms more and more. They come in so handy as a gentle, easy way to soothe and nourish troubled or damaged skin. This week alone we have been using the balm on scraped knees and dry, scaly elbows with great results.

The very last item unwrapped was a beautiful amethyst crystal cluster. Weighing over four ounces, Mindfulness box states a value of $10.00. I absolutely love this crystal. Mindfulness Box listed many wonderful qualities associated with amethyst. What resonated the most for me was, “Amethyst energy encourages the mind to be humble and to surrender to that which is greater than itself in order to gain a deeper understanding of how the powers of the Universe can direct and guide one’s life.” I am excited to add this crystal to my collection, which had been growing ever larger and more beautiful thanks to Mindfulness Box.

Mindfulness Box subscription box August 2015 unboxing & review

I really liked this Mindfulness Box a lot upon opening, and the more I sit with the individual items, the more I come to love and value everything that was included. Both girls spent time with me individually looking over the box and asking questions about the items (some of which started with, “May I have….”). It is clear that they are drawn to the items and curious about integrating the practices. As I look forward with tremendous gratitude to moving into our new house this week, I think about what I want to have in my home and what energy I want to create for my family within the space. So many of the objects and rhythms that I hope to integrate into the home have come to us through Mindfulness Box, which I think is pretty amazing for a subscription box.

The total value of this box according to the values listed on the card is $40.50, which I think is a good for the $29.00 box price. Looking at the individual items, I might have guessed a higher value myself. I think that Mindfulness Box is very well curated, and I really appreciate the high quality of the materials used to create the products in the box. I also like that Mindfulness Box includes such detailed and informative descriptions of the items as well as mindfulness activities that enhance my appreciation for what they choose to include in each box, and allow me to use them in a way that brings peace into my life.

I really look forward to receiving Mindfulness Box each month (and as Alina states, it is her favorite box so far). I think that the subscription remains very true to their mission to provide simple reminders to live more deeply in the moment. In this day and age when there are so many commitments and distractions vying for our attention, I appreciate receiving a box focused on helping me take time to be present to what is important to me in my life and to be mindful of how I want to spend my time, create my environment, and care for myself and my family.

For reviews of prior Mindfulness Boxes, look here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find my extensive list here. It has been newly updated and expanded. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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A Night for Green Beauty 2015: Recap and Review (Part 1)

A Night for Green Beauty 2015

If you have stopped by CrunchyParent.com or my CrunchyParent Twitter in recent weeks, you have probably heard me talking about A Night for Green Beauty. Ever since I first learned of the event that brings together top green beauty brands and fans from around the globe, I have been counting down the days until I could attend. I could not have been more thrilled that ANFGB picked a venue in local-to-me Chicago to host their third, and final year of A Night for Green Beauty.

A Night for Green Beauty

This year’s event boasted thirty-four amazing brands striving to raise the bar on glamour, quality, and luxury within the green beauty industry. In preparation for the event, I broke out my Ph.D. research skills and thoroughly vetted all of the brands who would be in attendance. I was universally impressed with each and every brand, and I have never been accused of being easily impressed. There was no greenwashing to be found; every brand had a story as well as a passion for wellness alongside the enhancement of beauty and the preservation of cellular health. Countless brands were rooted in herbalism, several were founded by physicians, and most of the companies had come into being in the last several years in response to a need for healthy skincare, cosmetic, or fragrance items in their own lives that was not being satisfied by what they were finding in the market. Looking more deeply into the individual product lines, the list of plant and mineral ingredients were amazing. I was incredibly eager to take advantage of opportunities to speak with the brand founders and representatives in an effort to learn more about the function of the various ingredients and to see, smell, and touch these gorgeous creations.

The ANFGB event ran from 6-10 pm. on a Thursday night. It was free and open to the public. I arrived at the Venue One, where ANFGB was being held, just moments before the doors opened. The ANFGB Twitter suggested that show attendees received goody bags from Integrity Botanicals. If that was the case, I missed out so I cannot confirm the bag or its contents, but I am sure that whatever they housed was amazing. The room for the event was spacious, yet still packed with other natural beauty enthusiasts. The area had two levels of vendor displays winding their way across the floor and along the walls, in addition to a separate boutique section where products exclusive to the event were being sold. The vendor display tables varied in their aesthetic, but all were beautiful. I personally found myself drawn to the tables that showcased captivating crystals or raw ingredients such as fruits, herbs, and butters. Something about seeing natural, raw ingredients pulls at my inner being and my curiosity about what goes into the products and makes them effective and special.

I did my best to spend time at every table and attempt to engage the brand creators or representatives in conversation about their products. Of course, I was not the only person vying for their attention and was thus unable to speak with every one. Likewise, although I tried to document the event in photos as much as possible, in some cases I simply could not get close enough to a crowded table to get a shot. On the other hand, there were occasions when I got so caught up in a discussion with a brand creator that I forgot to take a photo entirely. Please consider the following pictures and description to be a window into the event, but not a complete illustration of the utter fabulousness. I will try to hold back on a minute-by-minute description of how I spent the entire four hours there, although it will pain me to leave anything out. Rich reminds me on occasion that not everyone is as captivated by the minutia of green beauty as I am, but I am not entirely convinced that he is correct. Nevertheless, in the interest of writing a blog and not a book at this juncture, I will edit myself (sob), and also review the event in a two-part miniseries.

Among the many exciting opportunities at ANFGB, was the chance to see the upcoming product launches for the various lines. The first table that I visited at the event was Province Apothecary.

Province Apothecary

Province Apothecary

I was intrigued by many of the beautiful skincare, fragrance, and wellness items in their line, but my attention was quickly grabbed by their Full Brow Serum. I have been on the lookout as of late for natural eyebrow enhancement products. Eyebrows have been having a moment in recent years, yet I have been struggling to find eyebrow enhancement products that are not mineral-oil based or otherwise less than green. Julie, of Province Apothecary, told me that the brow serum is their newest, yet-to-be-released product. She added that the rosemary and coffee in the serum stimulate blood flow and enhance eyebrow growth and fullness over time. Other serum ingredients of note included burdock root, cedarwood, bay, and horsetail (a hot ingredient seen throughout the show,) along with additional natural ingredients in a blend of oils such as castor seed, argan, pomegranate, and broccoli. Providence Apothecary handed out samples of various products to show guests, and happily that included me. Look forward to reviews to come.

As I moved throughout the room, I made my way to Mun. Their streamlined skincare line features a single serum and toner, both of which are inspired by prickly pear, a plant that has fully captured my heart and held my attention since my recent travels out to the Sonoran Desert. It is another powerful plant ingredient that appeared in multiple product lines at the show.

Mun new release

Mun’s new release

Mun was giving a sneak peek of their next products scheduled for release. The first was a kit stocked with a trio of travel-sizes of their products, specifically the No.1 Aknari Brightening Youth serum; the No.11 Anarose Rejuvenating Rose toner; and No.0 Argon Pure Argan Oil, a new product that is currently exclusive to the travel kit. The second item that Mun debuted at the show the No. 7 Ayour Body Toning Serum, a silky soft serum with an intoxicating cucumber scent (if you are as in love with cucumber as I am). There was not a list of ingredients on-hand at the event, but Mun reached out to me to confirm that the delicious aroma was due to the inclusion of 100% pure cucumber seed oil from Chile.

Meow Meow Tweet-woodland display and eye-catching artwork.

Meow Meow Tweet’s woodland display and eye-catching artwork.

I had wonderful conversations with the women behind the brands Meow Meow Tweet, Mahalo Skin Care, and Stark. I expect that if we lived closer, we could all spend a lot of time together chatting about plants and skincare. I think that we would have a lot of fun.

Mahalo Skin Care's signature bamboo packaging

Mahalo Skin Care’s signature bamboo packaging

All three brands craft their small-batch, ingredients-driven products by hand, and house them in distinctly different yet equally striking packaging. I received product samples, or already own products from all three lines, so I will save more extensive descriptions of each brand for individual product review posts in the interest of the aforementioned blog vs. book goal.

Stark Skincare-clean and simple packaging with an urban edge

Stark Skincare-clean and simple packaging with an urban edge

As I rounded out the first floor of the show area, I lingered for a while at the Strange Invisible Perfumes table. I had been reading about their scents, which are crafted with the highest standards for botanical perfumes that I have seen to date.

Strange Invisible Perfumes-something very special

Strange Invisible Perfumes-something very special

They use only certified organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic, and hydro-distilled plant essences, which they hand blend and age for at least six months in a base of custom-distilled esprit de Cognac. I was curious to learn about hydro-distillation, having only been familiar with steam distillation methods for essential oil extraction. I was treated to a photo illustration of the hydro distillation process, which reminded me a bit of dehydration methods for raw foodists; a gentle heating with a low temperature threshold that preserves even the most delicate plant chemistry and aromatic profile. I was captivated by the four scents in the line that I smelled at the show (the line encompasses twenty-six distinct fragrance blends in total). Each perfume was a complex synergy of fragrances that somehow still allowed the individual components to shine through. Although all blended with flowers as a key note, the cognac base kept the perfumes very adult in personality; none were cloyingly sweet. Likewise, despite containing many familiar scents such as rose, gardenia, and vanilla, the fragrances are enhanced with more esoteric botanicals and blended to create incredibly distinct personalities that left a lasting impression. I regret not being able to take time to more fully explore a scent for me to bring home, but with all that there was to see at the show, I got swept away and never made it back to the Strange Invisible table for a more in-depth look before the show ended.

This handful of brands gives a sense of some of the variety and quality available on display at this year’s A Night For Green Beauty event. It was evident throughout the show that green beauty has come a very long way in the past 5-10 years. It seems to me that the green beauty industry is on the precipice of something very special; a true leap into luxury beauty with powerful plant-based ingredients that deliver incredible results without harming the user or the world around us. The understanding of herbal tradition and the range and quality of plant ingredients included suggested not just a vision for skincare and cosmetics that would not harm, but products that truly nourish the body. It was exciting to experience. If you haven’t gotten enough of A Night for Green Beauty (and how could you have?) I have Part 2 of my ANFGB 2015 miniseries still to come (you can now read it here). It will feature more of the incredible brands and more of the remarkably talented and passionate people behind the brands.

What did you think of A Night for Green Beauty 2015 and the brands represented? Did they live up to, or even exceed your expectations?

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My Great Big Herbal Adventure-Day Two

Arizona plants, mountains, and sky

You can read more about how a stay-at-home crunchy mom from Illinois came to find herself on a great big herbal adventure in Arizona and my first day here. Now that you’re here, let’s move onto the story of day #2.

Our classroom for the day

Our classroom for the day

Day number two my friend and I grabbed a quick breakfast at the motel and headed back to the hot springs reserve for what was to be essential oil day. It was amazing. Michael, our teacher, set up three steam distillation stills and talked us through the process of assembling, using, cleaning, and storing an essential oil still.

Still assembly-many bits & pieces

Still assembly-many bits & pieces

Michael had collected a host of medicinal plants in his home state of New Mexico just prior to driving in for the class, and fresh yerba mansa was dug from the stand adjascent to the classroom that morning. The boxes of plants had been perfuming the classroom as he spoke, and now they were ready for their big moment.

Watching, learning, and processing osha root

Watching, learning, and processing osha root

As a group we chopped up osha root, juniper, yerba mansa root and leaves, elephant tree, and white sage.

Processing yerba mansa to make whole plant essential oil

Processing yerba mansa to make whole plant essential oil

We then split into groups and got to work setting up our stills, packing the flasks with plant material, and watching the steam and cold water work together to extract and collect the essential oils from the plants.

Osha root in the bioflask

Osha root in the bioflask

Me attempting to use my hand as a level as we prepare for juniper essential oil

Me attempting to use my hand as a level as we prepare for juniper essential oil

For hours, we sat in our classroom while the oils were extracting, inhaling the scent of these amazing desert plants. We spent that time discussing the properties of the plants that we were working with, as well as learning about safe, responsible use of essential oils to support healing.

Juniper, yerba mansa, and osha filling the air with their powerful scent

Juniper, yerba mansa, and osha filling the air with their powerful scent

We were encouraged to drink plenty of water and use milk thistle seed glycerite to support our liver as we were inhaling, rubbing on, and otherwise absorbing so much of these powerful aromatics hour after hour. We also took an extended break mid-day to eat some lunch, soak in the hot springs, hike, and responsibly gather plants from around the reserve area.

Gathering chaparral, fresh air, and sunshine during the lunch break

Gathering chaparral, fresh air, and sunshine during the lunch break

After lunch, we returned to the classroom to watch the essential oils be separated from the residual water from the distillation process (hydrosol).

Dark band of yerba mansa essential oil collecting in the separator. Can you see it?

Dark band of yerba mansa essential oil collecting in the separator. Can you see it?

We then got to see a demonstration from a former student of Michael’s who had been invited to show us her process of making a medicinal herbal lotion using the yerba mansa essential oil and hydrosol that we had just made. We all received precious small jars of the lotion as well as jars of osha hydrosol. We were all also given 8 oz. glass jars to pack with the remaining plant material of our choosing and organic alcohol so that we could begin to create tinctures that we could bring back home.

Pinon pine & organic alcohol: the humble beginnings of a tincture before the alchemy sets in.

Pinon pine & organic alcohol: the humble beginnings of a tincture before the alchemy sets in.

Our final DIY project of the day was a healing oil that we were able to custom create using Michael’s proprietary oil blend and the osha, yerba mansa, elephant tree and white sage essential oils that we had created earlier. It was a wonderful way to watch, make, and blend a variety of herbal products that we could begin to put to use as soon as we returned home.

Sampling of the end products of "Essential Oil Day"

Sampling of the end products of “Essential Oil Day”

The evening wound down with collective pizza making in the brick oven on-site and long soaks in the hot springs.

Pizza making: when no rolling pin appears, grab a beer.

Pizza making: when no rolling pin appears, grab a beer.

Pizza oven firing away at sunset

Pizza oven firing away at sunset

Students grab a restorative soak in the large hot springs pool before nightfall

Students grab a restorative soak in the large hot springs pool before nightfall

After emerging restored and relaxed from the hot springs pool, we made our way back to our casita. That night our sleep was intermittently interrupted by the sound of wild animals howling outside our window, and mice scurrying around our mattresses (Well, it may have just been one mouse. We named him Cattywampus). We awoke ready for another day of herbal field study.

I will continue with day three of my herbal adventure in Part 3.

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More Crunchy Giveaways: Cloth Diapers, Menstrual Cups, Wool Dryer Balls, and More!


Newsbie Pix / Foter / CC BY

I am amazed by all of the great crunchy giveaways that I’m seeing everywhere. Where were these when I was building my cloth diaper stash? I’m excited to see menstrual cups becoming more widely accepted, they really are the greatest thing since sliced bread, if you ask me (and sometimes I sing their praises when people don’t even ask). Cloth dryer balls too? So simple and natural, yet I hear so effective. I must admit to not having tried them yet, even though I’ve made scads of wool balls for play (two-part tutorial here and here if you want to make your own). I’ll be crafting some plain ones for dryer use soon after we move into our new house next week, and I am happily reunited with all of my fluffy wool. Saving energy by cutting dryer time will be much appreciated on that electric bill. But enough of my chit chat, go enter and win yourself some great prizes. Good luck to everyone!

1. Cloth Diaper Geek and Green Planet Baby Giveaway: Win one of two prize packages; the winner’s choice of either a Diva Cup menstrual cup and a Glad Rags cloth pantyliner or a Glad Rags Daytime and Nighttime Set Total Value: not stated Enter Until: Friday August 7th

2. Cloth Diaper Whisperer Pink Lemonade Menstrual Cloth Giveaway: Win a $25 Pink Lemonade Menstrual Cloth Prize Package. Total Value: $25.00 Enter Until: Wednesday August 5th.

3. Dirty Diaper Laundry Lena Menstrual Cup Giveaway: Win a Lena Cup Menstrual Cup Total Value: approximately $39.95 Enter Until: Thursday August 6th.

4. Keeper/Mooncup Giveaway: Win a Keeper or Moon Cup Menstrual Cup Total Value: approximately $35.00 Enter Until: Monday August 31, 2015 at 10pm EST.

5. Not Quite Crunchy Mommy Wooly Naturals Wool Dryer Ball Giveaway: Win a set of six organic wool dryer balls. Total Value: approximately $25.00 Enter Until: Wednesday August 12th, 12:00 AM CST.

6. Grinning Cheek to Cheek Glow Bug Cloth Diaper Giveaway: Win a Glow Bug Cloth Diaper of your choice. Total Value: not stated Enter Until: Monday August 10th,11:59 PM CST

7. Latched on Mom Kushy Tushy Giveaway: Win a Kushy Tushy AI2 Cloth Diaper. Total Value: $24.99 Enter Until: Tuesday August 18th

8. Viva Veltoro Accessorize Your Stash Giveaway: Win a prize package featuring Buttons Cloth Diapers, LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls, and Spray PalTotal Value: over $150.00 Enter Until: Monday August 17th,10:59 PM CST

**Some of the above may be affiliate links. I don’t actually think that any are, but ‘m not 100% sure, so I’m going with better safe than sorry on this one**

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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Barganic Alert: Kloverbox Limited Edition Back to School Box

Klover Box BTS box

You may be familiar with Kloverbox from the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. They are a recently launched subscription box service featuring natural, cruelty-free and organic beauty, health, nutrition and home products. Kloverbox has just announced that they are launching their first ever kids special edition box.

The Kloverbox Kids Back to School Box will only be available for purchase from today through Friday August 7th according to their Twitter release. The link above lists a 8/9 order deadline, but you might want to order by 8/7 to avoid possible disappointment. The box is specifically designed for children ages preschool to age 8. It will contain an assortment of goodies, including eco-friendly school essentials, organic health & nutrition, and some additional unique finds. Kloverbox will also be asking for the child’s gender, name and age to personalize the assortment, which has me wondering if monogramed items will be included.

Boxes cost $50.00 and will ship in late August/early September. This is a one time purchase and will not initiate a rebilling subscription through Kloverbox. For those who are as intrigued as I am, Kloverbox will reveal a spoiler on their Facebook page next week. Are you going to order one or more for your kids (and how is school right around the corner)?

**Barganic Alerts are an effort to spread awareness about affordable crunchy goods and services. They are not endorsements, nor am I compensated in any way. They tend to be time-limited, and often go quickly. To make sure you are always in the know, subscribe to CrunchyParent.com to receive emails of all Barganic Alerts as soon as they are posted**

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